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Holiday Safety at Home

With the holiday season upon us for many that means spending time outside decorating. Before you step foot on a ladder keep or string a light keep these safety tips from remodeling contractor Danny Lipford, host of television's Danny Lipford, the host of television's Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford and longtime home improvement expert for The Weather Channel in mind.

Portable Power

As you unpack your holiday decorations inspect any lights to make sure that the bulbs are not broken and that wires do not have nicks or fraying. Anything with a defect should be replaced or thrown away.

Also make certain that any lights you'll be using outdoors are rated for exterior use. Before hanging exterior lights you'll want to consider your power source. Several strands of lights will require a power strip. The portable power outlets that have their own flip-type covers are very convenient and can accommodate several strands of lights.

They also have a built in circuit breaker so that in the event that you overload the circuit it will trip the switch to reset it. These same power outlets can often be found with built in timers giving you the ability to program your lights to turn on and off and maybe even save a little on your electricity bill over the holiday season.

Keep in mind that you'll need to run a good quality extension cord, rated for exterior use and UL approved, from your home to the portable power outlet.

Ladder Safety

Rather than driving nails into the fascia board which can damage the lights and look unsightly consider plastic hooks made specifically for hanging lights. The plastic clips easily attach under a shingle or onto the edge of gutters without any damage. Of course, hanging holiday lights typically requires a ladder.

So remember, the topmost rung of the ladder should never be used as a step. The ladder needs to be on a firm surface and in good shape. The angle that you place an extension ladder is also important.

A good rule of thumb is to put your toes on the bottom of the ladder and reach your arms out. Your arms should land right where a rung of the ladder is. If not, adjust the ladder. Once you climb the ladder make sure you keep your hips within the rails.

Tree Safety

Whether you choose to decorate a fresh tree around the holidays or an artificial tree there are some things you need to consider. When selecting an artificial tree make sure its UL approved and flame resistant.

If you opt for a real tree make sure it's as fresh as you can get it. If you pull lightly on the needles of a fresh tree they will not come off very easily. When you bring a fresh tree home you need to cut about 1½-inches off the trunk to allow water to soak up into the tree.

You'll also need a good substantial tree stand to support the tree and hold water. You'd be surprised how much water a fresh tree can "drink" so be sure to check the water in the tree stand often and consider using a funnel with a tube to easily water the tree and a dipstick to check the water level.

Fireplace Safety

If you have a fireplace in your home there's probably someone who is aching to decorate it for the holiday season. Before you break out the garland and stockings consider these safety tips:

Smoke Detectors & Carbon Monoxide Alarms

During the colder months we use our fireplaces more and our water heaters are working overtime so the potential for fires increases. When you're out buying batteries for your holiday gifts buy a few extra for your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms.

Make sure you a smoke detector installed on every level of your home and near sleeping areas. There are even some smoke detectors available with lights to help you and your family get to safety outside in the event of a fire.

If you have gas appliances, including a gas fireplace, a carbon monoxide alarm is a must have to detect the harmful, odorless gas that can result from an improperly functioning gas appliance.

With a little investment of time and a small amount of money you can have peace of mind during the holiday season.